Dr. Simon Thornly, of the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, has published a recent study claiming that foods high in refined sugars have the same addictive qualities as tobacco. According to Thornley, heavily processed foods that are high in refined sugars cause an almost immediate and intense rise in blood sugar levels. “This rush of sugar stimulates the same areas of the brain that are involved with addiction to nicotine and other drugs,” says Dr. Thornley, supporting previous studies by researchers at Princeton University, who have created sugar addict mice. By examining brain scans the studies have suggested that people who put on a lot of weight could be doing it to improve their mood – the same reason addicts take drugs. Those who become addicted to sugar, like all addicts, need continuously increasing amounts to experience the same mood changing effects. “The more instant the hit from a drug, the more likely it is to be addictive,” says Thornley, which leads researchers to believe that finding ways to slow the absorption of carbohydrates can help minimize the addictive response. More complex carbohydrates are absorbed slowly, as well as sugars that are consumed alongside fats and proteins.